This coming weekend London’s Wembley Stadium will play host to 90,000 fans packed in desperate to see Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko collide with the WBA and IBF world titles on the line.
The pair have shown huge respect for each other in the build-up to the fight and it is quite frankly refreshing to see a fight sold in such huge numbers without the sorts of threats and insults that are all too prevalent in the sport today.
Fans are only interested in seeing if Anthony Joshua is the next true star of the heavyweight division or if Wladimir Klitschko is still the dominant force that he once was.
Aged 27 Joshua comes into the fight with an undefeated 18-0 professional record containing 18 wins by way of knockout. The IBF champion has become the biggest name in British boxing despite only being a professional for four years.
He can sell out arenas in a matter of minutes and is often on the tip of every boxing fan’s tongue. He has become a star attraction that has made his fights a must see event.
His good looks, charisma and exciting fighting style have created a fighter that fans are desperate to see and naturally, a huge amount of hype and excitement surrounds him. It would have become very easy for Joshua to buy into the hype and become lazy but he has stayed humble and dedicated to his craft.
Standing at six foot, six inches tall with a chiselled physique, having won Olympic Gold, Joshua has been earmarked as the future of the heavyweight division and having stopped all of his opponents as a professional such predictions seem well founded.
For many, this weekend is the time when we truly find out just how good he is. He possesses obvious knockout power, good speed and an excellent jab but he hasn’t boxed a lot of rounds as a professional and will be at a major experience disadvantage.
Aged 41 from Ukraine, Klitschko is the man who dominated the heavyweight division for over a decade having compiled a professional record of 64-4 with 53 wins by way of knockout.
Standing at six foot, six inches tall Wladimir has adopted a safety first style that sees him throw a ramrod jab that keeps his normally shorter opponents at range followed by a big straight right or left hook.
He is a methodical fighter who slowly breaks down an opponent before ultimately normally knocking them out. He is a hugely experienced fighter who has seen everything the sport has to offer so nothing will come as a surprise to him.
The major question surrounding Klitschko is exactly what he has left. He hasn’t fought since November of 2015 when he was defeated by Tyson Fury. Klitschko was made to look old, slow and rather ponderous on the night.
He seemed so confused by the awkward style of Fury that he had no idea what to do. He became so unsure that he hardly threw a punch in anger. He was so reluctant to throw that there was no doubting he had lost his title in such a poor manner.
Klitschko has been slated for his performance on the night and rightly so but perhaps Tyson Fury hasn’t received the full credit that he deserves. He clearly got into the mind of Klitschko coming into the fight and his performance on the night left Klitschko looking like a very basic fighter.
Many feel that Klitschko underestimated Fury and that the defeat will have hurt him badly. He will have a fire burning inside to show the world just how good he is. Klitschko will know that another loss will tarnish his legacy forever.
In terms of analysing Joshua versus Klitschko, the tactics of the two fighters seem obvious. Joshua will look to dictate from the centre of the ring with his jab. Although Joshua is a quick starter he is not a man who goes wild and instead creates openings to land his power shots.
He will aim to make Klitschko feel his power early and make him hesitant to throw. Klitschko has shown a reluctance to engage when he is worried about what is coming back, Joshua cannot afford to let Klitschko relax and settle into his own rhythm and must make things uncomfortable for the Ukranian,
Klitschko will look to use his trademark jab to keep Joshua away from him and then hold on and lean on Joshua when he does get close to him. He will look to outbox the younger, more explosive fighter and frustrate him into making mistakes.
This has been Klitschko’s style for so many years now that there seems next to no chance that he will change now and look to become more aggressive.
In terms of how the fight will go Klitschko may be able to hold off Joshua in the opening rounds with his experience and skill but that is not something that I can see lasting. Joshua is not the small, slow footed fighter that Klitschko has been so used to fighting
Joshua seems too quick and powerful to be held down for too long and ultimately he will look to assert his physical dominance on the fight. Klitschko is renowned for not having the greatest chin in the world and he is not the most calm when he does get hit with a big punch,
If Joshua can land the big punch early then you would have to back him to claim the knockout as he is a fantastic finisher of a fight. Joshua is the favourite to win and knockout looks the most likely outcome but this is not the easy, foregone conclusion that so many are labelling it.
This has the makings of a tough nights work for Joshua if he cannot force Klitschko to feel his power early on and this cannot be forgotten. Despite this, I am predicting a knockout win for Joshua within 7 rounds.
Saturday cannot come quickly enough and I for one will be stood in the crowd at Wembley with that feeling of excitement and anticipation that only comes from a big night of boxing.